From a teacher’s perspective, the future could be a very exhilarating place and time in which our work is bound by neither of those factors..
Poor rural and urban students would no longer have to receive their education locked (literally) inside unhealthy, unappealing, outdated buildings. They could access me and I could reach them from anywhere. We could turn a marketplace, library, park, backyard, or rooftop into a learning site. I could virtually engage them in conversations that mattered with people, including experts, from around the globe. Using her school ID card as a projector, Makiaya could watch a 3-D image of her virtual classmate, Tyrone, reading aloud his latest piece of writing on the side of the refrigerator while fixing dinner for her siblings whom she keeps until her mother gets home from work. Tia could record what would become the draft of her next piece as she’s riding home from her job on the night shift at the restaurant. I could do an individual writing conference with Jason from his cell at the state-of-the-art juvenile detention center while simultaneously at my portable teacher center noting the progress of several students whose name and progress charts are coming up on my lesson management pad.
Some things don’t change. “The poor you will have with you always….”
I once saw a picture in a 1955 Life Magazine of an African teacher and her students huddled under a single tree, writing in the dust with sticks. That image has stayed with me like a compass point. Marva Collins once said all she needed [to be able] to teach is room full of children and two sturdy legs” Black teachers in the segregated South taught children to respect themselves and fight for freedom with what the white schools had thrown away. I watched my Delta Mississippi students blossom intellectually during a year-long online exchange with a class of peers in South Africa in 1994 when all I had was one computer in the classroom. (I had to email their writings from home, print out the responses then tape them on my classroom wall for the students to read). It’s not the technology that matters; it’s the TEACHnology.
Some things shouldn’t change.
Caring, equity, responsibility.
I don’t mean to be cynical; I’m actually very excited about the promises of the future…but experience has made me wary of how those advances could be used against the poor and the powerless—unless, those of us with integrity stand up and speak for them.